Troops school Trout 3-0
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Sandis Vilmanis scored two goals, including an empty-netter, and goaltender Dom DiVincentiis posted 22 saves as the North Bay Battalion blanked the Mississauga Steelheads 3-0 in an Ontario Hockey League game Thursday night.
Liam Arnsby had the first goal for North Bay, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 24-15-8 for 56 points, second in the Central Division, one point behind the Sudbury Wolves, who defeated the host Niagara IceDogs 4-3 in overtime.
Sudbury moved into first place in the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of the East Division’s idle Brantford Bulldogs, whom the Battalion visits at 4 p.m. Saturday to open a two-game road trip.
DiVincentiis made several sterling stops in registering the Battalion’s first shutout of the season and the sixth of his career. DiVincentiis, with a career record of 65-25-7, now ranks second alone on the franchise list in wins with one more than Bryan Pitton. Jake Smith had 90 wins, including 81 for North Bay after relocation from Brampton.
“Dom being able to make some of those key saves was very important, but what was nice was when he made a key save it was one-and-done,” said Battalion coach Ryan Oulahen. “We really came back to the house. Obviously, the big guys, the big bodies back there, played really well.”
Goaltender Jack Ivankovic gave up two goals on 28 shots for Mississauga, 23-19-4 for 50 points, third in the Central, before a Memorial Gardens crowd of 2,459.
Barring a playoff meeting, it likely was Mississauga’s last visit to North Bay, as the club announced this week that it’s planning to move next season to Brampton, where the Battalion played for 15 seasons before leaving in 2013. The move requires the approval of the OHL’s board of governors.
Protecting a 2-0 lead in the final period, the Battalion enjoyed the edge in territorial play, although shots in the frame were 7-7. Ivankovic left for a sixth attacker with 1:32 to play, and Vilmanis outworked Jakub Fibigr for the puck at centre ice and bulled to the net to score at 18:58.
Justin Ertel and Paul Christopoulos assisted on the goal, Vilmanis’s 16th of the season and sixth in nine games since a Jan. 6 trade from the Sarnia Sting.
Arnsby connected on the power play at 6:34 of the first period, standing at the lip of the crease to tip a screened right-point shot by Wyatt Kennedy. Andrew LeBlanc had the other assist on Arnsby’s eighth goal.
Vilmanis was open on the right side but fired wide in the 15th minute as the Troops outshot Mississauga 14-8 in the period.
Vilmanis atoned for the miss at 10:07 of the middle frame, taking a left-point pass from Bronson Ride, wheeling in the left circle and advancing to the dot to whip the puck past Ivankovic. Jacob LeBlanc had the second assist.
Ivankovic snagged an Anthony Romani drive off a breakaway 51 seconds into the period, and DiVincentiis slid to his left to rob Marc Boudreau off a pass from Adam Zidlicky on a shorthanded two-man breakaway at 7:42. DiVincentiis then denied Lucas Karmiris on a solo drive to the net off a turnover in the 15th minute, and Ivankovic got his left pad on Romani’s breakaway effort in the 18th.
The game at Brantford can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700.
BATTALION BULLETS: On Bruce Power Night, Kayla Banks of the North Bay Brain Tumour Walk committee and her cousin Sadie Fournier of the Nipissing Junior Lakers rep team took part in the ceremonial faceoff. Bonhomme Carnaval was a special guest … It was the fifth of six games between the teams, with the Battalion going 4-1-0. After the visiting Steelheads won 7-6 on Oct. 19, the Troops prevailed 5-3 at Mississauga on Dec. 8, 4-2 at home Jan. 11 and 4-3 in overtime on the road Jan. 19. The season series ends March 22 at Mississauga … In 103 career games, DiVincentiis has a goals-against average of 2.68 and a save percentage of .907 … The Troops’ Jacob Therrien saw the end of a four-game points streak in which he had four goals and two assists for six points … The Battalion went 1-for-3 on the power play. Mississauga was 0-for-2 … Opening lines included Dalyn Wakely centring left winger Owen Van Steensel and right winger Romani, Arnsby pivoting left winger Ertel and right winger Vilmanis and Ethan Procyszyn centring left winger Andrew LeBlanc and right winger Therrien. Brice Cooke centred left winger Ihnat Pazii and right winger Lirim Amidovski … Defence pairs had Tnias Mathurin with Christopoulos, Ride with Jacob LeBlanc and Trevor McDowell with Kennedy … The Battalion scratched Brayden Turley, Nolan Laird, Ty Nelson and Stef Forgione … Procyszyn returned after losing three games to an injury suffered Jan. 24 in the CHL-NHL Top Prospects Game, while Nelson remained in concussion protocol.